Do Genoa?

Excalibur is in need of a new Genoa for next years big trip as the current one looks like a dirty hanky.

My knowledge of sails so far is quite limited. Yes I can actually sail, but up until now I couldn’t tell you the sail area of my genoa or what cloth weight I should have etc etc.

I spoke to three sailmakers, announced that I knew nothing and listened to their suggestions. Afterwards I went away to draw up my own conclusions. I’ve found in the past this to be a good strategy, the last thing you need is a ‘yeh yeh yeh’ person, who just agrees with whatever you say, and offers up no experience of their own.

The first sailmaker gave me a quote for a large genoa and a smaller jib, his point being that one sail cannot be expected to work under a multitude of conditions. His solution was a large genoa for downwind and favourable conditions, and a smaller jib hanked on to the baby stay for forces 5-7. I could see his point of view, however I sail short handed and safety is more of a priority over speed, and want to limit time spent out of the safety of the cockpit. Basically its a faff and much more expensive.

The second sailmaker echoed thoughts similar to my own, and reflected chats with some experience sailor friends. We talked through the options and came to the conclusion that a 130% genoa would be suffice for my blue water cruising plans. However, he was more than confident that he didn’t need to come to the boat and measure up, and could work it all out from the office based on his experience. This didn’t really sit well with me. Sails are not cheap, no two boats of Excalibur’s age are the same, so if I’m spending over 1k on a sail I really want someone to take some time out and see the boat. I’m not exactly ordering a pizza here!

The Third sailmaker. North Sails. Guy comes out, looks at Excalibur. Immediately he identifies issues. For an hour he checks over my genoa, my main, and genoa options. I’ll add some pictures over the weekend with points he came out with. North Sails quote came out a bit higher than everyone elses, however I’d rather pay a bit extra and have the right sail, than pay a bit less and have an inadequate one. His knowledge and experience showed through. I feel the extra money I’m paying will save me future sail maintenance costs, and undesirable scenerios like mains and genoas popping out of their tracks, which would have happened had I not had some pointers on the boat.

One other development came when we started to talk about clew height. I wanted it to be reasonably high to help aid visibility. However by raising the clew height, your sheeting angle which should be at 45 degrees, means you have to push the car further aft. With my current genoa, he demonstrated that my cars have to be all the way aft when the sail is completely unfurled, leaving no space for tweaking. I’m not sure how anyone could work these things out without coming down to the boat and measuring up…

Anyhow, North Sails have all the measurements and I’ll have it made up next year closer to the crossing.

My main doesn’t need replacing and is in good condition. I do need have some work done on it though, as the main comes down too low which means I always have to lower the sprayhood when sailing.

Sail wise, Excalibur will be set up for blue water cruising. She also has a cruising shoot, storm jib (50%) and an old jib among other things in the sail locker.

Author: Tim Butler

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